The nine-member board of county freeholders votes policy, budgets, and personnel for the county. Rivas, who is also a Union City commissioner, was first elected to the Board of Hudson County Freeholders in January of 2004 to finish the term of former Freeholder Brian Stack, also mayor of Union City, who was elected to the State Assembly that year.
If re-elected, this will be Rivas' first full term in office.
Carrying out projects
Since winning the Democratic primary in June, Rivas has continued to push for the much needed repairs and improvements for Union City intersections, and to deal with traffic problems and pedestrian safety. A key project is the reconfiguration of the 32nd Street and Kennedy Boulevard intersection.
"This is my main focus right now," said Rivas. "We are configuring new traffic patterns for 32nd Street and Kennedy Boulevard from each direction; from north to south, east to west and vice versa."
With changes to the intersection coming soon, Mayor Brian Stack sent out a letter to residents stating which changes were to come for the busy intersection. Some of the other changes to the intersection include additional lanes, new traffic signals, and replacing sidewalks.
"We're going to have all left turning signals in all directions [at the intersection], and [neighboring] 35th Street will be right turns, only traveling northbound onto Kennedy Boulevard," said Rivas.
The traffic light at 35th Street will also be removed, but replaced with right turn pavement symbols.
The ratifications to this intersection and other Union City streets took a long time to pass, and have garnered even more attention since the recent fatal accident of a 15-month-old girl last month. The tiny tot was crossing the Bergen Turnpike in a stroller with her babysitter just off of the 32nd Street/Kennedy intersection, when they were sideswiped by a van, which left the child dead at the scene.
Despite the horrible tragedy, Rivas maintains that these configurations were already in the works and were not suddenly pushed along due to the accident.
"For certain reasons, it takes a long time for these changes to be done, but it is something we have been working on for a long time," said Rivas. "I am just continuing the work that Mayor Brian Stack left as freeholder a year before."
Another focal point for Rivas has been the remodeling and maintaining of the city's recreational space; starting off at Washington Park, just off of Palisade Avenue, which will undergo a huge renovation.
"Through the open space fund, we're going to be building a small soccer field [in Washington Park] for school children, which will be between New York and Palisade avenues," said Rivas. "I am also working hard to [replace] the tennis courts with professional size courts, and putting in some night lighting."
Rivas anticipates the renovations to be completed in about a year.
As an extension of Washington Park, the Doric Bridge - which overlaps Manhattan Avenue and connects the Doric Building to the park - will be torn down and rebuilt. Plans for that project have not yet commenced and a rendering is pending from the county engineer.
Rivas has also managed to push for bus shelters for all county roads throughout the city, and is working on paving for all county roads in Union City and sidewalk repairs like what was done on 49th Street. An optional dog run has also been proposed to serve local households with pets.
"I represent Union City in the county, and since I am a city commissioner here, I know what the needs are of the Union City people," said Rivas. "I am fighting in the county to get more money reinvested into Union City."
Education and investments
As a freeholder, Rivas has also been very much involved with the Hudson County Community College North Campus and light rail Station on 49th Street, which will bring a new source of tax revenue into the city and a new slew of commuters.
"The idea is to try and bring tax money to be invested in Union City," said Rivas. "We have been working very closely with the County Executive Tom DeGise, who is always involved in every detail concerning county government."
The Hudson County Board of Freeholders is pushing to get the construction on that site completed as soon as possible, which will not only serve as a top of the line campus, but a highly developed consumer space that will be monitored by a TV surveillance system and NJ Transit Police officers at no cost to taxpayers.
"We want to attract as many students of Union City to the HCCC to take advantage of the North Campus and scholarships that we offer here in the city, and attract more people to the schools of technology as well," said Rivas. "We want to let them know that we offer different opportunities to continue their education, especially for the Latino youths looking for the American dream, which can easily be obtained with an education."
Rivas currently serves on various committees on the Hudson County Board of freeholders including education, task force on the homeless, economic development and housing, ethics, senior citizens and veteran affairs, transportation, workforce investment board, tourism and cultural affairs, and women and minority affairs, which is of particular interest in the township of Union City. Being a Latin American representative, Rivas continues to try and raise his community up.
"I feel that the Latin American people are getting closer together, and they are finally taking advantage of state and administrative programs working for the Latin American people in areas such as education," said Rivas.
In Union City, all cultures are celebrated with special events held in the city and flag raisings on each country's independence day, where certain members of the patriarchy are also honored.
"We really celebrate the Latino American Culture in Union City [which is the populous majority]," said Rivas.
Despite some criticism from his political opponents, Rivas is standing strong by his record and remains confident in being the people's choice.
"My 35 years of work within the community socially and politically speaks for itself," said Rivas. "I know people are going to vote for me, for experience, and for a person who is doing the job the right way."